STEM cell scientists are claiming a major breakthrough after extracting new
life from,dead human embryos. Diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
could soon be treated without having to rely on live cells, researchers
How broken heart could mend itself
BY ANNE CAMPBELL
HEARTS damaged by disease have the capacity to heal themselves, scientists have discovered. Tests on mice revealed that proteins can guide 'repair' cells in the outer layer of the heart deeper inside a damaged organ to rejuvenate it by forming new blood vessels. The dramatic finding is in stark contrast to the long-held belief that the heart cannot repair itself. Experts described the research as 'important and exciting' and said it has enormous potential in the fight against Britain's biggest killer. The protein - thymosin b4 - is already known for its ability to reduce muscle cell loss following a heart attack, the experts tell the latest Nature magazine. But Dr Paul Riley, from University College London, said: 'Our research has shown that blood vessel regeneration is still possible in the adult heart. 'The protein could be injected into the bloodstream - or straight into the heart muscle in emergencies.' Prof Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: 'Finding out how this protein helps to heal the heart offers enormous potential in fighting heart disease, which kills more than 105,000 people in the UK every year. His council helped fund the research at the Institute of Child Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital Prof Jeremy Pearson. associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which also funded the team, said: 'These results are important and exciting.'
Doctors gave my Charlie heart
A YOUNG girl who used to sleep 20 hours a day and was too weak to walk up stairs is now running around her school playground after a heart transplant. A rare incurable heart condition left seven- year-old Charlie Nash, of Southsea, Hampshire, so ill she was virtually bed-ridden. After a six- hour op, Charlie was unconscious for eight days with her parents Lorraine and Ian at her bedside at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Now she is attending school full time for the first time and her mother Lorraine is planning a trek in Peru to say thank you to the hospital.
Hearts have master cell
REVOLUTIONARY stem cell treatments for heart disease came closer yesterday with the discovery of a 'master' cell from which all the major parts of the heart are formed. The cells were found in the heart tissue of mouse embryos. Tests showed they developed to become cardiac cells, smooth muscle and endothelial cells that line blood vessels - the three main cell types found in the hearts of all mammals. It is hoped they can be used in the future to regenerate ailing hearts as well as assist in the creation of new drugs, said Dr Kenneth Chien of Boston, US. [Metro Nov27,2006]
Brown backs opt-out organ donor scheme
BY AIDAN RADNEDGE
DOCTORS could soon remove organs from patients who did not give their explicit consent while they were alive. Under new Government plans, unless their patients opted out of the register or their family objected, surgeons would be allowed to take their organs when they died. The policy was supported by Gordon Brown who said it could 'close the aching gap' between those awaiting surgery and organs. But Joyce Robins from Patient Concern said: 'They call it presumed consent but it is no consent at all. They are relying on ignorance and inertia to get what they want.' Between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007, 3,086 transplants were carried out from 1,495 donors, according to NHS organisation UK Transplant. During the same period, 949 lives were saved through a beart, lung, liver or combined transplant. A total of 2,137 people received a kidney, pancreas or a combined kidney and pancreas transplant. And a further 2,402 people got their sight back with a cornea transplant. But, by the end of March 2007, there were still 7,234 patients waiting for a transplant. About 1,000 transplant patients die each year while they are on the waiting list. The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said: 'There is a lot of suppressed demand, with doctors not even referring patients to the list because there is no hope for them.' Sir Liam has backed a new system, similar to the opt-out one operated by Spain, which has seen the number of donors per head rise to the highest in the world. But Katherine Murphy, from the charity Patients Association, said: 'If people want to give the gift of life, that is their right, but it must be something that is a voluntary matter.'
A bit of give and take
I firmly believe in people's nghts and beliefs being respected when it comes
to organ donation. If you have opted out for whatever reason and have informed
your next of kin, then that is your choice. However, I can't help wondering
how many people who choose not to donate organs would happily receive them
if their health failed. You just can't have it both ways.